Interpol has asked Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) for the immediate arrest of the Hispano-Lebanese arms merchant Abdul Rahman El Assir, a regular companion of Juan Carlos I in that country, on whom two international search and arrest warrants weigh since 2019, as indicated to EL PAÍS police sources.
The Interpol order with a red note (arrest for extradition) takes place days after an investigation by this newspaper revealed that Abdul Rahman El Assir, 71, disappeared for almost three years and persecuted by the Spanish and French justices, was He hides in Abu Dhabi, where he has been visiting the king emeritus for months in his private residence, according to eyewitness accounts. The friendship between El Assir and Juan Carlos I is well known and dates back decades.
Interpol’s request has been processed by the office of that organization in Madrid after the Fugitive Brigade of the National Police activated the international cooperation channels after learning from EL PAÍS that the arms merchant lives in Abu Dhabi, a country of 1, 45 million inhabitants, where you can move freely. The Interpol office in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has transferred it, in turn, to the operational groups of the police in that country.
The Spanish police have also contacted the attaché of the Ministry of the Interior at the Spanish Embassy in Abu Dhabi to convey to the police services of the United Arab Emirates the interest of the authorities in the arrest of the fugitive, according to police sources.
El Assir disappeared on October 4, 2018, when he had been summoned by a Madrid court to be tried for a tax offense for a millionaire fraud to the Treasury. The order of arrest and imprisonment was issued by the court of the Provincial Court, on March 6, 2019, where he was to be tried and who was stood up on four occasions. The request was transferred to the Sirene Office, where the descriptions of people wanted by the European judicial authorities for their arrest for extradition purposes are activated and validated.
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The Sirene offices, created in all the signatory States of the Schengen Agreement, constitute an operational mechanism to support the Schengen Information System (SIS). In its files accumulate the names of hundreds of people claimed for arrest by the Spanish courts.
In the Sirene system, there is also the search and arrest warrant for extradition against El Assir issued by the French justice where he was convicted in absentia for the karachigate, a scandal of corruption and arms sales in Pakistan. It has been in force since mid-2020 and is being pursued for a financial and property crime. Part of the commissions for the sale of submarines financed the campaign, in 1995, for the presidency of the French republic of Prime Minister Édouard Balladur.
In Switzerland, where he established his residence in recent years, he has also left a trace. He owes 2.2 million in taxes, according to the Swiss media Bergen Zeitung.
“The arrest warrant for rebellion against El Assir was issued by the court and is still in force. When he is located, he will be made available to the judges, ”says a spokesman for the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid. “It was agreed and announced. Nothing has changed in this case”, replies an official source from the Prosecutor’s Office requesting against the Hispanic-Lebanese a sentence of eight years in prison, the payment of almost 90 million and compensation to the Treasury of 14,784,602.
For the public accusation, this arms merchant and international commission agent “consciously omitted” profits of more than 31 million euros and did not file the Personal Income Tax (IRPF) declaration. The fraud made it easier for him not to pay 12.03 million in 2002 and 2.7 million in 2003.
El Assir has been visiting the king emeritus for months at his private residence in Abu Dhabi. Eyewitnesses of these meetings interpret that the arms merchant is using Juan Carlos I as a “shield” to avoid his legal problems. The Royal House and Juan Carlos I’s lawyer declined to comment.
Haven for international criminals
The United Arab Emirates belongs to Interpol, like most Arab countries, but its collaboration is not as active as that of its other 194 partners. The response that the authorities of that country will give to the express request of the Spanish police is unknown, acknowledge the police sources consulted. Spain chairs the European Network of Active Fugitive Search Teams, but lacks influence in Arab countries.
Dubai, one of the main cities of the UAE, is an example of the lack of collaboration in the search for fugitives of this federation of seven emirates. The US Drug Enforcement Administration considers this city a paradise for criminals and international traffickers due to the scant collaboration of its authorities in the fight against international crime. “For the DEA, Dubai is currently the refuge of the three main drug traffickers in the world. Collaboration is very difficult,” says a police source.
The Hispanic-Lebanese El Assir married Samira, sister of Adnan Kashogui, the influential Saudi arms dealer based in Marbella who died in 2017 and was then considered the richest man on the planet. Samira was divorced from the Egyptian businessman and founder of Harrods department stores in London, Mohammed Al-Fayed, and with him she had Dodi, who was a partner of Diana of Wales. After his divorce, El Assir married María Fernández-Longoria, daughter of the Spanish ambassador to Egypt, with whom he has had three children and from whom he is separated.
Thanks to his friendship with Juan Carlos I, El Assir attended as a guest in 2004 the wedding of the then Prince Felipe de Borbón with Letizia Ortiz. In 2016, he celebrated the wedding of one of his daughters in the Swiss ski resort of Gstaad and chartered a plane for the guests, including the daughter of José María Aznar and her husband, Alejandro Agag, whose wedding he attended in El Escorial, as reflected by the heart media.
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